Sunday, April 6, 2008
These spaccatini, or "little cleft rolls," are another sampling from The Italian Baker. They are, according to Carol Field, from Lugano, and are "really something to sink your teeth into." I wasn't sure that sinking your teeth into was really a recommendation, but I wanted some dinner rolls that I could make ahead of time, freeze, and have for dinner on Wednesday, so I decided to give them a try.
These are very easy, except that they require a biga, so you have to start the night before you want them. The next day, after a rise, you divide them into sixteen pieces.
Or more. Or less. Because I am a direction-follower, I did 16.
Then the fun part--shape them into rolls, and then with a dowel, or wooden spoon handle, which you're more likely to have, make a deep indentation in the middle of the roll.
Turn them upside down, and let them rise again for about an hour. Then turn them rightside up, and bake, misting them with water three times in the first ten minutes. When they come out of the oven, they sound like Rice Krispies, with a lot of snap, crackle, and pop.
We tried a few tonight--to make sure that they were worthy of our Wednesday dinner guests. Fortunately, they were crusty and flavorful. As long as they survive the freezing, they should do.
Jim said they reminded him of the brochen he had many years ago, when he was stationed in Germany. It was the first time he had realized that bread could be crusty and delicious, not just something bland to slap peanut butter and grape jelly on. Over the years, these German brochen have attained a mystical quality in Jim's memory--the Platonic ideal of bread. If he thought they tasted like brochen, I knew they were good. And "spaccatini" is even more fun to say than "brochen."